Friday, September 13, 2013

Five-Minute Friday: Mercy

Back on the 5MF bandwagon! Spent the evening planning a Day-of-Atonement-themed prayer mini-retreat tomorrow, so the brain is only firing in one direction right now--with the exception of it's now-immediate direction: that of bed!


Sovereignty has no borders, and so it's not even surprising when I remember to look up the word, when I know the Day of At-One-Ment began as the sun slid below the mountains, and the word is "mercy." One of those words too holy to speak, like we should condense it, should throw away the pen. How can we even look for it, when we aren't good enough to give it? When Peter came out of the water, his brothers still hauling in the net, a Lord he'd denied and known to be dead standing before him, I don't think the word was on his lips, though it coursed through his veins. It's perhaps my favorite story--all the more because it isn't told, because it's too personal for even that man, who would bare everything else, to share with all humanity. The moment when a slaughtered lamb, having purified in one final at-one-ment, would take him by the shoulder, would smile, wait for Peter's eyes, and say the word only He has authority to speak.


Explanatory notes: 
- My nerdy English major self was almost disappointed at the simplicity of the etymology of "atonement." Literally being made "at one," esp. with God. 16th century.

- Peter's conversation with Jesus is, to some degree, assumed. I first heard a reference to it in a Beth Moore study (I forget which), and Beth is very frustrated that we don't get every detail of dialogue and body language. But I'm appreciate of the privacy granted there--as I am appreciate of the privacy He's granted me in times of utter brokenness. Piecing together Luke 24:34 and John 21:1-8, it's a fair guess that Peter had some alone time to talk, cry, repent, be at-oned. Mark Driscoll makes the point that the only difference between Peter and Judas was that Peter took his sin to the Christ and Judas took his to the grave. How fitting then that Peter would exhort the same of others, especially in his early preaching (Acts 2:38-40).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Book Review: Soil and Sacrament

When I requested Fred Bahnson's Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith, I had hoped for a nice bookend with Keeping the Feast. One of my greatest passions is cooking for and feeding people, and I was looking forward to another book along those lines. When a shiny new hardcover arrived at my door, my brows crinkled in dread as I began to page through it: Gardening?? No, no, no, no. This would not work at all. Pesky Speakeasy. Pesky responsibility to read books. I picked up a pen, hunkered down, and cracked open the book with the enthusiasm of an undergrad looking for Gen Ed credits in a Shakespeare course.

But despite my lack of enthusiasm for the subject, Behnson completely won me with his journey from his bucolic community farm to other similar outposts around the continent. Overwhelmed with the mundane problems of running Anathoth, his church's upstart serving a food-insecure community, Bahnson takes a leave of absence, traveling "as an immersion journalist, but also as a pilgrim" (11), and I pilgrimaged along with him. No gardener myself (though I did pick up a few tips from the read), I found myself contentedly joining Bahnson in his forays.

It's tempting to summarize Bahnson--to list off places visited and lessons learned: welcoming in the outcasts of drug dealers and parolees at Tierra Nueva, drawing parallels between mushrooms and prayer lives with monks at Mepkin Abbey, bringing Sabbath and Sukkot to life with a Jewish farming community in Connecticut. But the worth of Soil and Sacrament is, as it should be, in the journey. As Bahnson goes from one farm to another, he and the reader both pull bits and pieces along the way, not only the victories but the failures, the messes.

My only minor complaint stems from how the book wraps up--or, rather, doesn't. While I appreciate that Bahnson doesn't distill everything for the reader, I finished the book wondering about how his journey affected his faith. As the Author Notes will tell you, Bahnson no longer works at Anathoth, and there is no indication as to whether that decision was influenced by his trips, or how. Understandably, he seems very drawn to each community while he's there, but I'd be interested to know what's remained, what's dovetailed together for him now that he's back home.

In a final weaving of theory and practice, Bahnson concludes the book with several practical steps as to how to go about setting up your own community gardening venture, whatever that might look like. Inspiring and grounding, this memoir leads you to look around at the fields you've been given, and leave you asking how you can best serve it, and your community through it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.